Teacher on a computer

December 24,2021

Tax tips for teachers


As a teacher, did you know you can benefit from a range of tax perks? Getting to grips with the world of tax deductions might seem a little daunting at first. But don’t worry, in this article, we’ll do our best to clarify what tax relief you can claim as a teacher and how teachers pay taxes.

If you’re a teacher working in the UK, you should be able to enjoy a tax refund on expenses such as teaching equipment, professional fees, and cleaning a work uniform. Considering how hard you work to teach your students, you certainly deserve the benefits.

Many teachers end up spending their own money on equipment and resources they need to do their job. If this sounds like you, it’s time to get some money back!

What tax relief can I claim as a teacher?

Whether you’re a full time, part time, or substitute teacher, you can claim a tax refund on a range of work-related expenses. The following is included in this tax relief:

  • Travel costs for temporary cover jobs
  • Teaching materials
  • Professional fees (e.g. unions and bodies like NUT and NASUWT)
  • Subscription fees
  • Cleaning and maintaining work clothes (e.g. for physical education teachers)
  • Protective gear (e.g. for science or design technology teachers)
  • Specialised sports equipment (e.g. for physical education teachers)

Making a claim for tax relief shouldn’t affect any other payments you receive from the government. They will be treated completely separately.

What are the rules?

Of course, there’s a little more to claiming tax relief than simply saying you’d like your money back! There are a few limitations, rules, and considerations that you should keep in mind.

Eligibility 

Firstly, you’ll need to be an employee (you can still work through an agency). You must also be a taxpayer (this means you will earn over £12,570). All primary and secondary school teachers are eligible.

Usually, if you are reimbursed for your job-related expenses in full by your employer, you won’t be able to claim tax relief. However, if your employer only partially reimburses your expenses, you may be able to claim tax relief on the difference.

Necessity

The items you’re claiming tax back on must be incurred ‘wholly, exclusively and necessarily’ while performing your duties. Plus, it should be the case that anyone else performing your role would incur the same expenses.

Always question whether you could do your job without the item. If you could, it’s likely that HMRC will reject your request.

Replacement items

Also, new items (for which you’re claiming tax relief) should only replace items you once had. For example, if you’re a physical education teacher and need a new games kit or sports shoes, you can’t claim tax relief if you’re making an initial purchase — they must be replacement costs.

If you’re hoping to claim tax back on teaching props, HMRC will tend to see these things as ‘nice to have’ rather than ‘necessary’ with the view that if they were necessary, then they would be provided by your school. If you feel otherwise, you’ll need to provide evidence to the contrary.

These rules can seem a little strict and counterintuitive, so it might be useful to read some more examples. For instance, if you want to claim tax back for washing your lab or art coats at home, you might be able to claim a £60 allowance for the year. On the other hand, if you want to take a training course to improve your skills (or even directly improve your teaching), HMRC will not grant you tax relief for the costs.

For a comprehensive breakdown of the rules, see HMRC’s guidance.

Can I claim a laptop on tax for teachers?

Unfortunately, computer equipment isn’t eligible for tax relief, even if you feel it helps your teaching. 

You might think that the equipment your school provides you with is inadequate, but, unfortunately, HMRC is still unlikely to offer you with tax relief if you get your own equipment. There are some exceptions as outlined by UK Gov, but these will mostly apply to academic staff.

While this can be frustrating, you can still save on the cost of buying a new laptop by using teachers discounts. If you’re a teacher, you can access the HP employee store and save up to 40% on laptops, PCs, tablets, printers, and accessories. Plus, you can save up to 50% on laptops, mobile phones, tablets, and more with Laptops Direct

By shopping around for teachers' deals and offers, it’s possible to save more money when purchasing a laptop than you’d be able to save through tax relief — there’s always a silver lining!

How do teachers pay taxes?

If you’re employed by a school, they will be responsible for paying your tax. You’ll just need to take action on claiming your tax relief. To do this, you can submit a P87 formto HMRC. If you need further advice, you can always phone someone at HMRC. 

It’s useful to note that claims can be backdated up to four years. This is beneficial as you won’t need to worry about claiming right away. Having said that, it’s wise to note down each expense and claim every year to avoid forgetting.

Salad Money

If you’re a teacher in the UK and need help covering the cost of essential purchases, we might be able to help. At Salad Money, we’re working hard to stop toxic loans. As a for-profit social enterprise, we offer fair, affordable lending for workers in the NHS and public sector, so you don’t have to be ripped off by predatory loan companies. 

You can borrow between £500-£1000 and repay your loan over 12 or 18 months. Learn more about Salad Money or apply for a loan now.